What does “natural birth” mean?

If you are pregnant, you’ve undoubtedly heard of natural childbirth. But what does it really mean, and is it for you? Read on for some of the details.

Pregnant woman with doula

Although the term “natural childbirth” wasn’t coined until the 1930s, women throughout history have given birth without drugs or medical intervention. Consider your own family history when, prior to the 20th century, women delivered primarily at home. Why, then, is there a call to designate a method of birthing based on what women have been accomplishing since the beginning of mankind? Perhaps in light of our increasing medical advancements, the term “natural birth” has taken on a certain significance to help identify the choice as well as the principles behind it. So that raises the question: What is “natural childbirth”?

What is natural childbirth?

The philosophy is simple: Natural childbirth is a non-medicated approach to labour and birth.

Why natural childbirth?

  • Advocates of natural birth suggest this method of delivery is healthier for both the mother and child. There won’t be any drugs that could potentially cause harm to the baby. As well, to some proponents of natural birth, this process also refers to a birth without many medical intervention that could be invasive and harmful to the newborn.
  • The mother will be able to stay in tune with her body. She will stay alert and aware of every moment of the birth.
  • It’s empowering and provides the new mother with a sense of accomplishment.
  • The mother’s recovery time is potentially reduced, and she will generally feel great shortly after the birth.
  • Non-medical options for handling natural birth, such as the Bradley Method and Lamaze, encourage active participation from the mother as well as a partner or coach.
  • Medical intervention is still an option when required for the health and safety of the mother and child.

Preparing for a natural labour and delivery

  • Choose the health care practitioner you feel comfortable with. Your practitioner can help determine if a natural birth is right for you. If your pregnancy is considered low risk, opting for a midwife might be a wise choice, as she has the training to assist in the birth and will help you deliver outside of a medical facility if that’s your choice. A doula can be a valuable addition to the birthing team, as she is generally knowledgeable about pain management and birthing techniques.
  • Keep yourself healthy with proper nutrition and regular exercise. Natural birth is a physically demanding process, so your body needs to be adequately prepared for such an event.
  • Be educated. Knowing what to expect and what your options are will help empower you and ensure a positive and successful labour and birth!

More pregnancy articles

Understanding your prenatal care options
What you’ll need for a hospital delivery
How to prepare for your maternity leave

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